The Avett Brothers Jam for Three Nights in St. Louis…And Still Have the Energy to be the Nicest Guys in Target

This past Thursday night the Avett Brothers began a three night concert series in the beautifully restored Peabody Opera House and I was able to attend with three of my very best friends. We were going to celebrate Kyle’s birthday and Dave had very generously bought tickets for us all. What a gift. It was an energetic evening of rock and roots, an evening of emotions both quiet and raucous, all worn upon on plaid sleeves, on stage and in the seats. We were a little ways away but the every word and chord carried clearly up to where we were.

avett brothers in saint louis peabody opera house small

I must confess that I am a relatively new fan of the band, but The Carpenter spent a good many months spinning in my car’s CD player, was given to my brother and rotated on Spotify by me for a long while. And after this concert I have plans to delve into all the albums I have not heard as yet. They have a lot to say that is worth hearing about the joy and challenges of life, about the struggle. Indeed I said to my friends that I feel that if the Book of Ecclesiastes or King Solomon were to have a house band, the Avett Brother’s just might fit the bill.

On Sunday night I had just left Target and was headed over to Kyle’s house to finish off the birthday weekend with even more friends and dessert. While I waited for some folks to pass to go into the store, I checked out the demographic make-up of the group and thought to myself, “Hey, they must be Wash U students…No, wait a minute, that is the Avett Brothers and Joe Kwon and a friend!” I parked the car and and rummaged around for a pen and something to write on, and my hat and a big fat magic marker presented themselves as an ideal and creative solution.

I caught up with Scott Avett and Joe in electronics and tried as best I could to gauge whether they would be too tired to humor me, but how does one judge these things anyway, so I just politely asked. And, yes, literally, they turned out to be the nicest guys in Target. The electronics guy was pretty nice, too, and took this picture.

avett brothers in saint louis target small

And so I learned first hand that they had played different sets each night with about only 5 songs overlapping and that it was pretty much a three night party in the Lou, which they are planning to replicate a couple of other places this summer. Scott was so cool and made conversation and asked me if I was a long time St. Louisan, told me I should come out to Red Rocks to see them again, and signed my hat for my friend Kyle, as did Joe Kwon and Seth, who I tracked down in Housewares, while the friend he was with very kindly held his coffee. I am a bit clueless and did not pay very close attention to the friend or else I may have felt inclined to get her signature, too, but that was not really what I was after, in any case, and had the good sense not to ask for a picture.

avett brothers in saint louis hat small

In the aftermath of such mind-whirring events, you think of things that you wished you might have asked or said, such as expressing appreciation for a particular song or taking the time to talk more to the awesome cellist Joe about his playing or asking if you could come shoot one of their concerts (kidding) 🙂 (kind of), but all in all the encounter pretty much hit the sweet spot and was the perfect bookend to an Avett Brother’s birthday weekend. What a gift, indeed, that I was able to both receive and to give.

I could not be happier to be able to give up this one hat from my collection for this reason, and will be just as happy to hunt in the thrift stores for another one like it.

dassler green hat


Creating Art, Helping a Community – Danger Schmanger

OK, though much like Pope Benedict is soon to be this site is largely functioning as a Blog Emeritus to the new site 🙂 I do want to use it from time to time, though, for special announcements, etc. Won’t you consider donating to this worthy project. I know a lot of people (including a ton of artists) are asking for your money these days, but I can vouch for these gentleman and their heart and vision and I want to promote their cause wherever I can.


Some gentlemen I know from church are part of an endeavor to create a business that does good by helping to foster new artists and to change the perception of a much maligned but amazing city, my city, St. Louis.

Would you watch the video on their page and consider donating? As a personal connection, the house that the video was shot in? Yup, that’s das Haus, my house, right in the middle of the aforementioned city. Check them out on Facebook here and the web here. Click on the image below to go to their fundraising page.

danger schmanger

From their Indiegogo page:

“Hey there people. My name is Cardin Irakoze and I am one of the interns for Danger Schmanger. I’m originally from Congo. I have been in St. Louis for five years and the first thing I noticed about St. Louis the danger. It took me awhile to notice the beauty of St. Louis. The first thing I want other people to notice about St. Louis is the beauty not the danger. One of the best ways we can do that is through Danger Schmanger. One t-shirt can make a huge difference. We need your help. We need $4500 to finish buying equipment and things for our shop. And even if you can’t help us financially, you can still pray for us. Thank you.”

Cardin is an awesome kid studying at Forest Park Community College to do web design. We are truly privileged to be burning screens, pulling ink, and making T-shirts with him.

How it all works:

funding DS

Cornerstone Festival 2012 – July 4th – The Hollands – Carielle – Sean Michel – Run Kid Run – Together in Dust – Leper – Glenn Kaiser & Joe Filisko – Grave Robber – 77s – White Collar Sideshow

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Note: The next few posts will be to Flickr sets from the Cornerstone Festival. If that is not what you come to this blog for, please be patient and don’t unsubscribe. I will be back to the standard fare of whatever it is that I blog here soon enough 🙂

When you take over 1500 photos over the course of 4 days at a music festival, it takes a long to time to process them, and some of them just are going to make it on the web. However, since I took them, I am loathe not to post them, especially since some of the smaller bands might dig them.

The Last Cornerstone Festival – A Six Band Sampler – The Crossing – Andru Bemis – Icon for Hire – The Burial – Aradhna – Sqad Five-O

I am spending these roasting in 100 degree heat in the middle of Illinois and catching the last iteration of a music festival that I have enjoyed and which is very important to me. This is a sample of photos of seven bands from one evening. More to come later. For now, its off for more of circle pits and folk crooners.

at trader joe’s

at trader joe’s
i feel the energy
of people getting deals
the sense of making steals
and living to tell about them
(that’s half the pleasure)
like walmart after thanksgiving
but without obesity

i check out
and in my heart I feel
the insidious energy
of scorn

caveat: I really don’t have much against Trader Joe’s. In fact, I admire its business model almost as much as its distant relation Aldi’s, which I adore. I appreciate the fact that they seem to be doing something in the effort to raise meat more humanely, if I am not mistaken. I appreciate the energy of its employees, one of whom very kindly brought a whole case of the infamous three buck chuck to an event of mine. I even really like many of their products. I don’t know, I suppose it is really only the way some followers of the cult of Giuseppe talk that sometimes gets under my skin 😉

St. Louis Murder Rates in Maps – Visualizing Despair

the murder maps each
year just bleed the same dark stain;
drops like question marks
While reading the paper online, I came across these horrific interactive maps from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Each image below is linked to its source page and clicking on any drop on the original tells you, in police blotter fashion, the name and circumstances of the person murdered. There are so many drops.

In regards to the last line of my haiku/senryu above, if you take away the metro east and focus just on St. Louis city and county, the pattern the drops makes is like a giant question mark with a big thick blob at the top in North St. Louis with a curve through downtown which then curves back down into some of the neighborhoods of South St. Louis. Forest Park and the neighborhoods to the west provide, dare I say it, “white space” to this dark stain*, with a drop here and there, drops which, I might add, when they occur seem to be reported in the news media with a greater degree of angst and attention.

If you live in St. Louis and care about such things, either for self-protective or empathetic reasons or both, this pattern is not a surprise to you – you have the areas mapped out in your head – but the sheer repetitiveness of the pattern shown here year after year shocked me today. And even early in 2011, the pattern is asserting itself again already.

My prayer is for all of us St. Louisans to keep our eyes open to this and to try to understand the reasons why it is so and to work against it, and "Help us, Lord Jesus."

*Please realize that I am NOT saying that African Americans are intrinsically more prone to being murderers; there are black neighborhoods on this map with higher socio-economic-status indicators in both St. Louis city and county with murder rates that are like those county and city areas with majority white populations. There is no question that the most murders are in low SES, African American neighborhoods, but I am saying nothing in this post about that beyond noting its very great tragedy.

The lie of keeping it real – A review of Losing My Cool: How a Father’s Love and 15,000 Books Beat Hip-Hop Culture by Thomas Chatterton Williams

If you have not been reading this blog for long, and perhaps “reading” is an insufficient word here, perhaps you are confused whether it is a photo blog or a poetry blog or blog presenting prose pieces. The answer to this question is “Yes.”

It is clear that photography takes up most of its real estate, with haiku a close second, but at several stages in this blogs history, that is to say my history, there was a fair bit of prose as well. That has diminished, but when I do publish a piece elsewhere on the web, I do like to point it out.

That is what this is, a review of Thomas Chatterton Williams thought-provoking and excellently written memoir. Without further ado, I will let the review do the talking.

Oh, and for more blog brand dilution/confusion, stay tuned–a blog contest or two are in the wings waiting to make their appearance.

Thanks for reading/viewing.